The Longest-Serving Congressman on His Impending Retirement: "I Find Serving in the House to Be Obnoxious"

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 24 2014 9:50 AM

John Dingell, Longest-Serving Member of Congress, to Retire

164146937-rep-john-dingell-speaks-during-an-event-marking-the
Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) speaks during an event marking the third anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act at the U.S. Capitol March 20, 2013 in Washington

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the longest serving lawmaker in congressional history, won't run for reelection. Here's the Detroit News with the scoop:

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

"I’m not going to be carried out feet first," says Dingell, who will be 88 in July. "I don’t want people to say I stayed too long."
Dingell says his health "is good enough that I could have done it again. My doctor says I’m OK. And I’m still as smart and capable as anyone on the Hill. But I’m not certain I would have been able to serve out the two-year term."
More than health concerns, Dingell says a disillusionment with the institution drove his decision to retire. "I find serving in the House to be obnoxious," he says. "It’s become very hard because of the acrimony and bitterness, both in Congress and in the streets."
Advertisement

Dingell was 29 years old when he first won his seat in Congress in 1955 after the death of his father, who had served the district for the previous two decades. This past summer the Michigan Democrat passed the late Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia as the longest-serving congressman in either chamber's history.

Despite his departure, Dingell's district likely won't be in play for Republicans later this year: Obama won 66 percent of the vote there in the past presidential election, and it's considered safely dark blue.

Dingell joins a growing list of congressmen and women on both sides of the aisle to announce that they won't stand for reelection this fall. Still, the departures are largely business as usual. Since 1973, nearly 10 percent of Congress has willingly moved on before the next Congress got underway, according to the Wire, which crunched the numbers earlier this month.

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.***

This post has been updated.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.